- Welcome to the land of Japanese resorts -
A paradise of more than 150 islands
Okinawa Prefecture includes more than a hundred islands stretching more than 700 kilometers from Kyushu in the south-west direction to the island of Yonaguni-jima, located within sight of Taiwan. This chain of subtropical islands with lush vegetation, paradise beaches and magnificent coral reefs, called Ryukyu-shoto, has become a popular vacation spot for Japanese and foreigners residing in Japan. Other tourists rarely come here - mainly because of the considerable cost of the trip and the long journey, but if you have seen enough of the shrines and temples and want to check-out the best beaches and diving sites in Japan, visit Okinawa.
The largest island of the archipelago, Okinawa-honto, sometimes called just Okinawa, is the transport hub of the region and the location of the capital of the prefecture – Naha. This is the most populated and economically developed island in Ryukyu-shoto. Okinawa-honto has several historical monuments, many of which are associated with the battle for Okinawa, which took place at the end of the war in the Pacific. The island has a lot of interesting places aside from battlefields, especially in the northern part, where in remote villages life is still flowing in the old manner.
To see all the interesting things in this region, you will have to visit dozens of outer islands located far from Okinawa-honto, many of which are uninhabited. Even very close to Naha, in the area of the Keram Islands, only 30 kilometers from Okinawa-honto, you will find magnificent beaches and places for scuba diving. Divers and simply lovers of beaches and sea bathing can visit the islands of Miyako-jima and Ishigaki-jima. If you are looking for an idyll in a quiet place, the most suitable for you is Taketomi-jima; Lovers of adventure will surely like Iriomete-jima, full of mangroves.
It is on these outer islands that you will be able to appreciate the peculiar Ryukyu culture influenced by contacts with Taiwan, China, and the rest of Japan. Most prominently this culture is expressed through the peculiar cuisine of the islands and adherence to bright colors and tropical patterns. Chinese influence is evident in the architecture of the region and traditional dresses. Shamans do not let the ancient religious beliefs to fade away, and unique musical instruments and styles exist here. If you are lucky enough you will be able to witness one of the local festivals.
Okinawa is another region (except for Hokkaido) where there are vast natural areas and a huge variety of flora and fauna still remain. Most of this wealth of wildlife consists of marine plants and animals that develop under the favorable conditions of the Kuroshio Current, which washes upon the eastern coast. On land, wildlife is also represented by several unique species, including turtles, crested eagles, Okinawa woodpeckers, and a wild Iriomote cat.